The International Cricket Council (ICC) has initiated a push for cricket to be integrated into the Olympic Games in time for the Los Angeles 2028 event, citing the popularity of the sport in the US.
As cricket will feature in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the ICC believes the event will provide ‘a perfect showcase’ for the sport, promoting its potential as an Olympic event.
The last time cricket was featured in an Olympic event was in the 1900 Paris games – in which Great Britain and France were the only participants – meaning if the ICC is successful, the sport would make its return after 128 years in 2028.
“Firstly on behalf of everyone at the ICC, I would like to congratulate the IOC, Tokyo 2020, and the people of Japan for staging such an incredible Games in such difficult circumstances,” said Greg Barclay, Chair of the ICC.
“It truly was fantastic to watch and captured the imagination of the world and we would love for cricket to be a part of future Games. Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future. We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 percent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics.”
He added: “We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games, but we know it won’t be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same. But we feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics are.”
Assembling a Working Group to further promote the inclusion of the sport into the Olympic Games, the ICC has detailed how the US is home to around 30 million cricket fans, arguing that LA 2028 is the ‘ideal games’ for cricket to return to the event.
The Olympic Working Group will be headed by Ian Watmore, Chair of the England Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and will be joined by Indra Nooyi, ICC Independent Director; Tavengwa Mukuhlani, Chair of Zimbabwe Cricket; Mahinda Vallipuram, Vice President of the Asian Cricket Council and Parag Marathe, Chair of USA Cricket.
Marathe agreed with Barclay’s view that ‘the time is now’ for cricket to return to the Olympic fold, whilst adding that the sport’s growth in the US could be accelerated by its inclusion at LA 2028.
“USA Cricket is thrilled to be able to support cricket’s bid for inclusion in the Olympics, the timing of which aligns perfectly with our continuing plans to develop the sport in the USA,” he remarked.
“With so many passionate cricket fans and players already in the USA, and a huge global audience and following for the sport around the world, we believe that cricket’s inclusion will add great value to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games and help us to achieve our own vision for establishing cricket as a mainstream sport in this country.”
The ICC’s Olympic ambitions follows the announcement of its plans for the expansion of the men’s Cricket World Cup and T20 World Cup in June, with the governing body outlining that the number of teams and matches would be increased in both tournaments.